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Ohio University Board of Trustees learn about first-year student experiences, receive annual Facilities Maintenance, Operations, and Sustainability update during August meetings

The Ohio University Board of Trustees received an update regarding the fundamental resources and support services that OHIO provides to first-year students; they also received the annual Facilities Maintenance, Operations and Sustainability update during meetings on Monday, Aug. 21 on the Athens campus.

The Board also received an update from President Lori Stewart Gonzalez and learned more about her recent engagements with numerous student leaders, faculty, staff, alumni and community members during her first six weeks as OHIO’s 23rd president.

Highlights from the Board of Trustees’ August meeting included:

OHIO’s First-Year Student Experience

Executive Vice President and Provost Dr. Elizabeth Sayrs and Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Lyn Redington presented an overview of the first-year experience, from Bobcat Student Orientation to the end of students’ first semester, highlighting Bobcat Student Orientation, Move-in and Welcome Week, graduation planning and advising and how learning communities can be transformational. They, along with several students, discussed how Move-in and Welcome Week focus on engaging students socially and academically during their first week on campus through events like Baker Bash, the First-Year Student Convocation, the Involvement Fair and more, and how the week is aimed at helping create a sense of belonging for students at OHIO.

Interim Vice Provost for Student Success Carey Busch discussed how the OHIO Guarantee Plus helps students with their graduation planning, providing professional advising and faculty mentorship, not just in their first-year but throughout their college career.

The Board also heard about the fundamental touch points that are provided to OHIO’s first-year students in support of their academic and personal journey. Sayrs and Redington spoke about student engagement and showcased the interdisciplinary work that takes place across campus to help ensure the best experiences for students. Learning communities are just one way for students to engage on campus. Through learning communities, students create a learning-based peer network and community with other students and share a welcoming space where they can have classroom discussions, take campus and community field trips and participate in group study sessions, as well as other fun events around campus and Athens.

Facilities Maintenance, Operations, and Sustainability annual update

The Board received an update from Vice President of Finance and Administration (VPFA) and CFO and Treasurer Mark Heil, Associate Vice President for Facilities and Safety Troy Bonte and Associate Vice President for Design and Construction Jon Cozad regarding OHIO’s ongoing facilities management, operations and sustainability efforts. During the presentation, the group provided a brief operational overview of each of the functional units, as well as key performance indicators. They also provided an Office of Sustainability Staff update, including that Jesus Pagan completed his term as Sustainable Infrastructure Hub coordinator and that Mechanical Engineering Professor Cody Petitt has been appointed new coordinator.

Additionally, Heil, Bonte and Cozad highlighted various VPFA recognitions and awards, like once again being named a Tree Campus designation, an Encouraging Environmental Excellence Award from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, and a Bicycle Friendly University, among many others. They also showcased some of the department’s creative, new initiatives for funding energy management projects at OHIO with the goal of optimizing energy performance of existing facilities without a budget allocation.

Enrollment Update

Vice President for Enrollment Management Candace J. Boeninger shared an update on preliminary incoming student enrollment projections for fall 2023, which are trending slightly ahead of the record-breaking enrollments in 2022. She also shared that enrollment overall is expected to be strong, with retention indicators for both the Athens and Regional campuses trending ahead of last year. Several online undergraduate programs also are trending ahead, and Boeninger noted that there looks to be new student growth in the RN to BSN program.

Capital projects

The Board approved the following new capital projects, including:

  • Chilled Water Plant 3 Expansion – The Board approved a resolution for installation of an additional chiller and associated electrical equipment, pumps and cooling towers at the Chilled Water Plant 3. This $6.8 million project is funded by state capital and housing departmental reserves.
  • 31 South Court Roof Replacement – The Board approved a resolution to replace the roof at 31 South Court Street. This $1.6 million project is anticipated to be funded through century bonds.
  • Copeland Hall HVAC and Controls – The Board approved as resolution to replace the HVAC controls in Copeland Hall. This $1.4 million project is anticipated to be funded through century bonds and state capital.
  • Ping Center Fire Alarm Replacement – The Board approved a resolution to replace the fire alarm system in Ping Center, including the fire alarm control panel and devices. This $1 million project is anticipated to be funded through century bonds.
  • Annual Campus Steam Repairs 2024 The Board approved a resolution to address campus steam distribution and tunnel improvements as identified through the annual tunnel assessment. This $1 million project is anticipated to be funded through century bonds.

In other business, the Board also approved:

  • The renaming of the West Union Street Office Center (WUSOC) to the Russ Research Opportunity Center.
  • A resolution for an easement to the city of Athens for a forcemain sewer line from West Union to Richland Avenue.
  • A resolution for an easement to the city of Dublin for relocation of Eiterman Road in Dublin, Ohio.
  • A resolution to declare 1011 Kemp Lane in Ironton, Ohio, as surplus property.

The complete Board of Trustees agenda from the Aug. 21 meetings is available online at

August 21, 2023
Staff reports